For close to thirty years, Anti-Flag has brought their fiery brand of socio-political charged punk rock to the forefront of the music world. Hot off the heels of their latest album, American Fall, we talked with bassist Chris #2 about the band’s new record and the sordid state of affairs that is America 2017; and how their anthemic set of tunes fits in the scheme of things.
James Alvarez: When exactly did you begin working on American Fall? Was anyone working on material while on the road for American Spring? Did the touring you did on your last record have any impact on how you crafted tunes for this new one?
Chris #2: With all Anti-Flag records, there’s no definitive start date. We are always writing. Ideas that we had from YEARS before get thought through, looked at with fresh eyes and ears, then, of course, there is the spontaneity of ideas just coming to you. I would say we became more singularly focused on a new record around January of this year.
JA: Do you guys write riffs or song ideas individually and bring skeleton songs to the table, or is there designated writing/jam time as a band?
C#2: All of it. Some songs Justin or I will have completely finished when we share them, others are just rough ideas. Pat or Head will often say “We should write a song about this issues” or “This is something that I am passionate about, we have to go after this”… those things push us to write for specific intentions, those songs always come out very cool.
JA: Could you explain the meaning behind the album’s title: American Fall, and any overarching theme going on?
C#2: There are a few double entendres with the record coming out in the Fall season in America, the Trump/Pence regime’s rise to power feels to many as the fall of America. The thing that is mostly hidden in there is our belief of the American Fall is not a bad thing. Our culture of violence, profit over people, squeezing the environment like a lemon, these things need to end. Our hope is that this political divide comes to a head, giving us, for the first time in my lifetime the ability to write our own history. There is something very positive and powerful in that belief.
JA: American Fall’s political content is topical/relevant without being overbearing. It’s more of a scalpel than a sledgehammer. Given our, current state of affairs, it would have been easy to just go off so to speak. What prompted this more, refined approach?
C#2: The privilege and luxury of time have given us the vision to know that these records last a long time, to be knee-jerk reactionary is often a disservice. One of the mantras of this process has been that Trump is a symptom, not the disease.
JA: What was your personal, first exposure to American politics? Was there a song/album/event that stuck with you from your youth that helped you see how the game works?
C#2: Fuck The Police, NWA. I was around 9 years old, my brother was often on the other side of the law. The cops in my neighborhood were total dicks, they fucked with my family, would tell me they were going to “take my brother”. When I heard this song come from my brothers stereo in the garage I immediately had a place to put all of that frustration and anger I had towards these people.
JA: Despite the serious topics covered in American Fall, the music remains relatively upbeat and infectiously catchy throughout most the album. With a record as catchy and hook-laden as this, how did you narrow down the selection of singles?
C#2: Honestly in the digital age of music we see each track on the record as a single. It’s one of the reasons why we work to make each one memorable. The experience of listening to a record front to back is happening less and less. That’s ok! We’re not upset with the technology and it’s reshaping of this process, I mean I wish that more folks put the physical records in their hands, read the liner notes and lyrics, but understand that this is an ever-changing experience. All said, we just want to write the best songs we can. Each record is an exercise to achieve this goal.
JA: How did you cross paths with Benji Madden and what was it like working together in the studio?
C#2: The Madden brothers manage us. We were writing and recording the record in their studio in LA. Bouncing ideas off of them, but Benj was more hands on. This led to us just turning to him at one point and saying, “You know you’ve produced this record right?”… We laughed, then continued moving forward. Anti-Flag, being the socialists we are, anyone who does work should be compensated and credited. Hence Benji is the co-producer on the record!
JA: Are there certain songs off the new album that you love playing live more than others?
C#2: They’re so new we’ve only gotten to 3. “When The Wall Falls”, “American Attraction”, and “Racists”. So far, Wall Falls has become one of my favorite Anti-Flag songs ever.
To purchase Anti-Flag’s latest album American Fall, click HERE!